US destroyer sails near disputed South China Sea islands, Beijing says it ‘chased’ ship

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka: Don’t get sick or have accidents: That’s the advice doctors in Sri Lanka are giving patients as the country’s economic crisis leaves its health system short of medicines and supplies. other vital supplies.
The South Asian island nation is running out of money to pay for basic imports like fuel and food, and medicines are also running out. Such unrest threatens to undo its enormous gains in public health over the past decades.
Some doctors have taken to social media to try to secure donations of supplies or funds to purchase them. They are also urging Sri Lankans living abroad to help. So far, there is no sign of an end to the crisis that has plunged the country into economic and political collapse.

Jesmi Fatima shows a prescription given by doctors to undergo pathology tests that have already been delayed due to lack of supplies in Colombo, Sri Lanka, June 3, 2022. (AP)

This means 15-year-old Hasini Wasana may not be getting the medicine she needs to protect her transplanted kidney. Diagnosed with kidney disease as a toddler, she received a transplant nine months ago and has to take an immunosuppressant every day for the rest of her life to prevent her body from rejecting the organ.
Hasini’s family depends on donors to help her now that her hospital can no longer provide the tacrolimus tablets she received for free a few weeks ago. She takes eight and a half pills a day and the cost is over $200 a month just for this drug.
“We are told (by the hospital) that they don’t know when they will have this tablet again,” said Ishara Thilini, Hasini’s older sister.
The family sold their house and Hasini’s father found a job in the Middle East to help pay for his medical care, but his income is barely sufficient.
Cancer hospitals, too, are struggling to maintain stocks of essential drugs to ensure uninterrupted treatment.
“Do not get sick, hurt yourself, do anything that would require you to seek unnecessary treatment in hospital,” said Samath Dharmaratne, president of the Sri Lanka Medical Association.
“That’s how I can explain it; it is a serious situation.
Dr Charles Nugawela, who runs a kidney hospital in Sri Lanka’s capital, Colombo, said his hospital had continued to operate thanks to donor largesse but had resorted to providing drugs only to patients whose the disease had reached the stage where they needed dialysis.
Nugawela fears that the hospital will have to postpone all but the most urgent surgeries due to a shortage of suture materials.

Mohammed Feroze, a kidney patient, puts on his shirt while waiting to buy medicine in Colombo, Sri Lanka, June 3, 2022. (AP)

The College of Oncologists of Sri Lanka has handed over to the Ministry of Health a list of medicines which “are very essential, which all hospitals must have at all times so that we can provide cancer treatment without any interruption”, said Dr. Nadarajah Jeyakumaran, who heads the college.
But the government is struggling to provide them, he said.
And it’s not just medicine. Chemotherapy patients are susceptible to infections and cannot eat normally, but hospitals don’t have enough food supplements, Jeyakumaran said.
The situation threatens to cause a health emergency at a time when the country is still recovering from the coronavirus pandemic.
Hospitals lack medicines for rabies, epilepsy and sexually transmitted diseases. Laboratories do not have enough reagents needed to perform comprehensive blood count tests. Items like suture material, cotton socks for surgery, supplies for blood transfusions, even cotton and gauze are in short supply.
“If you handle animals, be careful. If you are bitten and need surgery and you get rabies, we don’t have adequate antiserum and rabies vaccines,” said Dr. Surantha Perera, Vice President of the Association. medicine in Sri Lanka.

People wait to receive medicine at a pharmacy of a government children’s hospital in Colombo, Sri Lanka, June 6, 2022. (AP)

The association tries to help patients by seeking donations through personal contacts and from Sri Lankans living abroad, Perera said.
Dhamaratne, the association’s president, said if things don’t improve, doctors could be forced to choose which patients will receive treatment.
It’s a reversal of decades of improvements through a universal health care system that has elevated many measures of health to the level of much wealthier nations.
Sri Lanka’s infant mortality rate, at just under 7 per 1,000 live births, is not far off that of the United States, with 5 per 1,000 live births, or 1.6 in Japan. Its maternal mortality rate of nearly 30 per 100,000 compares well with most developing countries. The US rate is 19, while Japan’s is 5.
Life expectancy had risen to almost 75 years in 2016, from less than 72 years in 2000.
The country has successfully eliminated malaria, poliomyelitis, leprosy, the tropical parasitic filariasis commonly known as elephantiasis, and most other vaccine-preventable diseases.
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe appealed for help, and the United States, Japan, India and other countries pledged funds and other humanitarian aid. That aid and more from the World Bank, Asian Development Bank and other agencies will ensure medical supplies through the end of next year, Wickremesinghe recently told lawmakers.
But in hospital wards and operating rooms, the situation looks far less reassuring and threatens to erode public confidence in the healthcare system, Dhamaratne said.
“Compared to COVID, as a health emergency, the current situation is much worse,” he said.

Comments are closed.